"We are separating, what should I think about?"

Separating from a partner can be one of the most stressful times of our lives. You may be going through many emotions whilst having to make what can feel like life changing decisions.  You will no doubt be asking yourself lots of questions.

These may include who will live where and what will happen to your family home, particularly if you have a joint mortgage.  You may also be worried about the arrangements for your children’s care and financial support. 

Added to all this is often a lack of understanding about what rights you and your partner may have if you are separating. The terms on which you separate are ultimately up to the two of you and you can agree anything you like, regardless of the legal position.

Problems are only likely to arise when you and your partner cannot agree what should happen and this is where the legal position is likely to become more relevant. 

Despite what many people think, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’. It does not matter how long you have been together, if you are not legally married to your partner, you cannot claim a share of your partner's assets or any ongoing financial support from them (with the exception of claims in relation to any children).

As the family home is usually the biggest asset, it is often at the centre of disputes. It is not always straightforward to work out who owns what share of the family home. For example, it may be possible to argue that you own a share of the equity in the property, even if your name is not on the legal title, and it may be possible to argue that you own more than your partner even if you own the property legally in your joint names. 

    This is a very complex area of the law, which is very fact specific.  It is essential to talk advice from a specialist family lawyer so that you understand your legal position.

    If you have children, the practical arrangements for them will be a priority. You will also need to consider who is paying what for them.

    Cohabitation is a complex area of law and couples who find themselves in dispute should take legal advice. 


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